In my experience, people who are dating a sociopath don’t always realize it until it’s too late.
The signs of a sociopath don’t show themselves so easily, but if you’re with one, you may notice they are impulsive, are more prone to addictions, and lack empathy.
But can sociopaths love?
One of my readers recently submitted a question, asking for advice on the matter:
Dear Fearless Love,
A year ago I broke off a 15-month on-and-off-again relationship with someone I was deeply in love with. When we were together, he was fun, made me laugh, and we talked for hours.
He liked being spontaneous, which I found exciting, but it meant he never planned our dates. He wouldn’t define our relationship and he also didn’t want to involve our families or friends. When we saw each other, it always involved being intimate, even after I had just finished saying I didn’t want that.
I fought with him about this blatant disregard for my wishes and safety, and I found myself asking him over and over again if he really cared about me, or anything at all. As much love as I felt for him, many times he left me feeling confused and insecure. When I would break up with him, he would write me love letters and bring me gifts, so I believed things had changed.
Recently, I noticed he is pursuing other women as he pursued me — so sweet and charming. I feel betrayed. Doesn’t he know how much he’s hurt me? Is it normal to feel so hurt even after a year apart? —Jana
It sounds like the relationship, while very enjoyable in some respects, also brought you much inner turmoil. The behaviors you describe fit some of the signs of a sociopath — someone who is charming but manipulative, and experiences little empathy, shame, or remorse. He entices you with his words and invades your personal space, expertly building rapport to create a false sense of intimacy with you.
But he’s not sincere and has no desire to honor you. It sounds like you are dating a sociopath.
Someone who fits into this category tends to disregard your rights and sentiments, often violating stated boundaries around sexual integrity and your physical being. He cannot commit well to relationships and wants to “keep you all to himself,” isolated from friends and family.
Drawing you ever closer to him may initially make you feel special, but truthfully, he’s increasing your dependency and vulnerability on him. Often, this is done with a play for your sentiments and compassion.
In finally breaking up with this man and his personality disorder, you stopped playing his game, so he moved on and doesn’t care if you see him for who he is. For you, this was about love; for him, it was about what he could get.
This type of individual lives in the moment. Based on his inherent lack of trust, there is no tomorrow.
Your feelings of betrayal are real and understandable, but you should consider yourself lucky that you got out of this toxic relationship. Marriage would not have changed his behavior. Your heart will heal and is free to love someone who is deserving of it, and able to return what you have to give.